Jewish Bookstores In A Declining Economy

From Hirhurim:

Here’s a great interview with Danny Levine, the owner of a Jewish bookstore in midtown Manhattan, where he gives his view on the current state of the Jewish book industry. Keep in mind that he is a bookstore owner and is giving his perspective. I also think that his perspective will be different than that of the SOY Seforim Sale (his competitor), which makes a lot of money from impulse buying that will probably be reigned in right now (link):
How is the Jewish book business doing and where is it headed?

By nature our industry is not flippant. Ours is a need-based product. Passover, it’s one of the most celebrated holidays of the Jewish religion—everyone needs a Haggadah. Obviously, now people will buy a paperback rather than a hardcover.

Click here to read moreI see that in times of trouble our business seems to thrive, because we’re a spiritual entity. The calamities of Madoff teach people that the dollar is not to be worshipped. What matters is spiritual, God, and those are the things you buy from a company like J. Levine.

How has the Internet affected the industry?

The advent of the Internet was a major assault on the average bookstore. It was also major assault on the Jewish industry, because previously the only place to get a Jewish book was at a Jewish bookstore. But Amazon became a Jewish company, selling Jewish books and things like that, undercutting the prices terribly, offering 40 percent off and free shipping, and just destroying the whole market.

Steve Brizel writes: Danny Levine is a real mentsch and whose store reflects the POV expressed in the interview. That being the case, there is a difference between stores such as J Levine , Eichler’s and even the SOY sale and Biegeleisen-which sells sefarim as opposed to seforim,Tashmishei Kedushah, English Judaica and what many would call "Tzachkas." When you walk into and look at Biegeleisen, you see classical Sifrei Kodesh and many gems that the owners have and will display for the discerning shopper.

Keyser posts: Wow, I would never buy anything from a guy like Mr. Levine. Amazon is wrong for selling Jewish books? Publishers should boycott it? Kindle is ridiculous? Discounts are bad?

Mr Levine seems to think he has a divine right to his profit margin. Good luck with that. He certainly is never going to get it from my wallet.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
This entry was posted in Books and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.